On New Year’s Eve, the FA chose to publish the report that took them 10 days to type and proof. We all thought it would be comprehensive and so it was. A good 115 pages long. Then there was a search on internet to find the report in a PDF format, try to find if the report included a concise version and also to find some semblance of a mood to enjoy the NYE.
In the meantime, the internet exploded with the so-called journalists who claimed to have read it and held no punches in criticizing Liverpool FC and Luis Suarez. The English press has, unsurprisingly, found new lows to dive to. These journalists have shamed their honorable profession and if I say I have no respect for them whatsoever, I’d be understating. Their tabloidism has killed people when they have chased celebrity cars. They have destroyed reputations of people, even of cities and they are at it again. Every single one of them wants to take the moral higher ground without heeding to what’s happened. For their sake, let us assume that the report is correct. It also states that Luis Suarez is NOT a racist. Journalists like Martin Lipton and Oliver Holt choose to ignore the fact and state the opposite. First things first though, the report is based on ‘probabilities’ and not on ‘facts’. As much is admitted in the report itself. So, before dissecting the report, let us lay here what it actually says. It states that on ‘balance of probabilities’, it seems more probable, in their opinion, that Evra’s account is closer to what happened than Suarez’s. The likes of Martin Lipton have gone on to brand Suarez a racist based on the report. The report categorically denies it and so does the instigator of the episode – Patrice Evra.
I don’t blame the supporters of other clubs branding Suarez with all kinds of names. We’ve got a game to play with every team at least once during the course of next 5 months and Suarez, by far, has been our best player in 2011. Even without that part, it is always good to have a rival team in some sort of trouble, isn’t it? They anyway don’t know the intricacies or details of the case as well as we may be followed or researched or even thought about it.
Let’s focus on the report for a little bit and why is it not The Bible. Why, in fact, it is as flawed as the LFC supporters think it is. First of all, the commission worked on a basis of ‘balance of probabilities’ as against the standard of ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. As they’ve admitted in the report, they were a ‘jury’ and thus the decision on the case would ultimately depend on who they felt is ‘more credible’. It is not right or wrong, true or false, one or zero or, in fact, credible or incredible but more or less credible. A case that would decide the reputation of a professional footballer should have given more weightage to evidence, wouldn’t you think? Despite such an appalling methodology, let’s give the commission some benefit of doubt. Let’s agree that if it were to function on the basis of ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’, proper, incontestable evidence would have not been present and since it was the prerogative of the accuser to prove, the case against Suarez was never likely to win. In order to have a fair trial, let’s tilt the balance of the incident to favor the accuser, shall we? Fair? Not so much but let’s live with it for now.
Some of you might have read the report and some of you would have read some summaries/opinions. Some of you on the other hand would have heard about the contents. Although it is unlikely, I tried to read the report with as much of an open mind as possible. The early parts of the report were not a pretty reading for me as an LFC and a Luis Suarez fan. As dreadful as the length of the 115 page document sounds, the further you go into the document the less is the dread and more is the disgust. Let me see how accurate my short summary is: The commission finds that Luis Suarez has more probability of saying what he is alleged to have said since he was nervous and changed his version and didn’t answer in monosyllables and that the version he told his teammates after the game had three extra syllables. Well, that’s certainly not the most just summary but injustice is what the entire report smells of.
Could it, by any chance, be possible that Luis Suarez was nervous at the time of giving his testimony? The commission says he may be but still thinks that his testimony was garbled and that he did not give straight answers.
Could it be possible that during the course of the game and right after it with emotions, adrenaline and so many other factors running high, one of them being humiliation after being alleged to be racist and because of hearing untoward things being said about his place of nativity and his sister’s anatomy, he could have clouded recollection of what happened and when he sits down later to revise what happened, he could have remembered more accurately?
Let me ask some other questions from another perspective-
Could it be possible that Liverpool FC were playing a cover-up but in doing so, they did not even rehearse their lines?
Could it be possible that Evra was racially abused by Luis Suarez and complained to the referee and when the referee did not hear it properly, he did not even repeat it? I mean it’s not as if Luis stole a pencil at school. Surely Evra knows racial abuse in intolerable and should be reported immediately. Why did he not make the referee acknowledge his complaint? (Later when Evra and Fergie complained to Marriner, Marriner remarked ‘Oh that’s why you were saying something about black’).
The commission found that Suarez’s case was less probable than Evra’s case because –
1. Luis Suarez changed a few statements regarding the time of the events
2. Comolli and Kuyt earlier remarked that they thought Luis had said “Por que, tu eres negro?” and not “Por que, negrito?” changing the meaning from ‘Why? Because you are black’ to ‘Why, Black?’. Even then there is confusion whether the initial thoughts included ‘eres’ or ‘es’.
3. Luis was ‘less composed’ during the testimony and did not give straight answers. That is to say that when he was asked a question, he would answer about question but not give a straight ‘yes or no’ answer.
4. The account that Suarez gave of the incident and the words that were exchanged were shorter than the conversation as detailed by Evra. Evra’s conversation was more in line with the video footage and ‘more probable’ to be the ‘closer’ account of what happened. It is to be noted here that Evra gave his testimony while looking at the screen.
As per the report, here is what Evra told his mates in the dressing room about the words Suarez used:
Valencia’s version: “Negro, no hablas conmigo”
Hernandez: “No voy a platicar contigo porque eres negro”
Anderson: “no hablo con negro”
And Nani couldn’t remember the exact words Evra said. Of course the three statements above are exactly the same, eh? Of course how Kuyt/Comolli versions differed by three syllables was more ‘inconsistent’ and the difference more implicating.
Evra complained to the commission that Suarez called him a ‘nigger’ but later changed that to Spanish ‘negro’ since Spanish doesn’t differentiate between ‘black’ and ‘nigger’. Evra’s initial complaint to the referee was ‘he called me a fucking black’ where as later the complaint was ‘he called me a fucking nigger’ and ultimately back to ‘black’. Very consistent allegation sir.
Then there is the small matter of information, transcripts, tapes of FA’s interview with Patrice Evra being held from Liverpool Football Club for about more than 3 weeks must be a very minor oversight.
During the course of the report the commission emphasizes that the burden of proof was on the FA and may be I didn’t pay much attention, I couldn’t find any ‘evidence’ in the report.
What the FA and the commission have done here is use some kind of bent logic called ‘balance of probabilities’ and estimates that Luis Suarez said things that Patrice Evra has alleged and using that subjective logic, has branded the player as racist forever despite proclaiming that he is not racist and the comments might have been ‘out of character’.
The rules of the code that were used pronounce judgement first have to find whether Suarez insulted Evra and then establish whether the insult was racist in any manner. Here are the rules:
Rule E3, with the sub-heading “General Behaviour”, provides as follows:
“(1) A Participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour.
(2) In the event of any breach of Rule E3(1) including a reference to any one or more of a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability (an “aggravating factor”), a Regulatory Commission shall consider the imposition of an increased sanction, taking into account the following entry points:
- For a first offence, a sanction that is double that which the Regulatory Commission would have applied had the aggravating factor not been present. For a second offence, a sanction that is treble that which the Regulatory Commission would have applied had the aggravating factor not been present.
- Any further such offence(s) shall give rise to consideration of a permanent suspension.
- These entry points are intended to guide the Regulatory Commission and are not mandatory.
- The Regulatory Commission shall have the discretion to impose a sanction greater or less than the entry point, according to the aggravating or mitigating factors present in each case.”
If Patrice Evra did indeed start the conversation talking about Luis Suarez’s sister “Concha de tu hermana, porque me diste in golpe”, how can that not bring the game to disrepute (specially since the statement is now well known) and not be tantamount to abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting words? It is also to be noted that all parties have agreed that this (or whatever else Evra’s version is) was the starting point of whatever transpired later. In that case, should this not be penalized first and everything that happened later shouldn’t only be seen as a by-product of this first offense?
Luis Suarez was not in an open stretch of field. He was in the opposition box waiting for a corner. There would have been at least eight Manchester United players in that box. How come nobody else heard even a part of the conversation? How can there be no other witness? If there are none, ain’t it a probability that the conversation mightn’t have happened in the first place?
Let’s say Patrice Evra did complain to referee about Suarez’s calling him a ‘fucking black’. Would he not have then also confided in a couple of his teammates during the game itself or was it too trivial an issue for him to do that? What is the ‘probability’ of him not doing that? If Luis did call Evra a ‘negro’ or ‘negrito’ or any other form of the word five or seven times, what is the probability of no one else hearing it even once? It is not like Evra plays like a lone striker and is usually left alone in the opposition box with defenders like Suarez. On the contrary and based on historical evidence, Suarez is the one who is usually crowded by opposition defense. Would Evra have gone to the referee alone to complain about such a thing during the game? Would he not have sought support/empathy from his team-mates? That trivial an issue Patrice?
Even if I take out my LFC glasses for a minute, what this commission has done is that they have set a very dangerous precedent. Hence forth, if there is a altercation between two players of different races, one of them can use this precedent to get the other one penalized, branded, characterized for life.
Fathom this – If there is a verbal duel between two players of different races, can one of them not blame other for racist comments may be by changing a word like ‘slack’ or ‘wank’ or whatever else to ‘black’ from the conversation and then pop a couple of anti-anxiety pills during the interview in front of any commission?
Sad times indeed for a supporter of ‘the best league in the world’!
YNWA and thank you for the patience to read thru if you’ve reached here. As an afterthought, I might as well apologize for any incoherence in the article. The events make it such sad reading that I do not even wish to proof-read it.